For photographers on the go in environments where the weather is likely to change at any moment, it's important to have a case that can protect your gear against the elements.
The Lowepro Nova 160 AW (the AW stands for "all weather") comes with a weather-resistant cover that's tucked in underneath the front flap, removed by separating the Velcro just underneath the bottom seam.
As a camera bag, the Nova comes equipped with all the bits and pieces one would expect — a zipped pocket in the front that is big enough for some filters and extra elasticised pockets for small items like memory cards. The top flap is dual-fastened with a zip and a plastic click lock, opening 180 degrees when both are unfastened.
Though the specifications state that you should be able to fit a digital SLR with lens, and an additional lens in the bag, we found it incredibly difficult to squeeze them both in. The camera in question, a Canon 40D with 17-85mm lens attached, fits comfortably with the LCD screen facing down, with just enough room to squash in a 50mm prime or perhaps an 18-55mm kit lens should the mood take you. Any larger camera body, like the Canon 7D or Nikon D7000 for example, would have real trouble fitting in this bag. The Nova also comes in a range of other sizes.
The Nova comes with a padded shoulder strap that clips on to the plastic hooks at either side and the length is adjustable. At the rear of the bag are two belt loops that seem sturdy enough to hook through a belt for hands-free carrying. Unlike the previous Lowepro bag we reviewed, the Nova has a sturdy and padded base which would protect a camera or lens.
As for the weather-resistant cover, while it's a great idea, in practice it's a bit fiddly to use. After removing the cover from the front pocket it stays attached to the bag and wraps around the exterior. There's room for the plastic click lock to pass through both ends, but there are still small areas around the zip and plastic hooks that are exposed.
An all-weather bag that can go the distance, the Lowepro Nova 160 AW is ideal for photographers who need to protect their smaller SLRs from the elements. While the Nova wouldn't protect its interior contents if it was dunked in the ocean, for splashes, rain and dust it will do a great job.